Miller Center

Miller Center National Fellowship

Beginning in the 2017-2018 academic year, the National Fellowship Program, a longstanding initiative of the Miller Center, will fall under the leadership of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation at U.Va.. The Jefferson Scholars Foundation, created in 1980, currently offers the premier graduate fellowship and undergraduate scholarship at the University. To learn more about the National Fellows Program, including how to apply, click here.

Meet The Fellows

Ariel David Adesnik - History, Oxford University

Project: The Rebirth of American Democracy Promotion: Carter and Reagan in Central America

Adesnik photo

Fellowship year: 2005

Mentor: Melvyn Leffler, University of Virginia

David Adesnik is Policy Director at the Foreign Policy Initiative.

He focuses on defense and strategy issues. Previously, Adesnik was a visiting fellow at the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. For two years, he served as deputy director for Joint Data Support at the U.S. Department of Defense, where he focused on the modeling and simulation of irregular warfare and counterinsurgency. Adesnik also spent several years as research staff member at the Institute for Defense Analyses. In that capacity, he spent several months in Baghdad as an operations research and systems analyst for Multinational Corps–Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2008, he was part of the foreign policy and national security staff for John McCain’s presidential campaign. 

Adesnik's academic interests include the impact of rhetoric on foreign policy, democracy promotion, and Latin America. He received his Ph.D. and Masters of Philosophy from Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. His dissertation focused on the Reagan administration’s approach to democracy promotion. David received a bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University. He has been the recipient of fellowships from the Council on Foreign Relations, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Harvard University, and the University of Virginia. His work has been published in Foreign Policy, The Weekly Standard, The National Review, The Washington Free Beacon, The Washington Quarterly, Forbes.com, FoxNews.com and The Daily Caller. David has served as a commentator on several cable television networks and radio programs.

Selected Recent Publications

"The Logic of American Exceptionalism.The Journal of International Security Affairs, no. 26 (Spring/Summer 2014).

"Rand Paul Sees No Threat From Terrorist Safe Havens In Iraq.Forbes, June 20, 2014.

"O’s Counterterrorism Fund.National Review Online, June 4, 2014.


Gwendoline Alphonso - Government, Cornell University

Project: Progressive & Traditional Family Orders: Parties, Ideologies, and the Development of Social Policy across the 20th Century

Alphonso photo

Gwendoline M. Alphonso is Assistant Professor of Politics at Fairfield University.

Alphonso is interested in the study of state-society relations, particularly the intersection of culture and morality with law and political development. Her primary research interests are two-fold: first those pertaining to American Politics: United States Congress, Political Parties, American Political Development, Gender and Politics, Politics of the Family, Social Policy; and second those relating to Law: Feminist Legal Theory, Family Law, Comparative Constitutional Law and Theories of Criminal Law and Punishment.

Alphonso's dissertation examined the origins and evolution of partisan family ideology and its effect on social policy through three periods in 20th century American political history – the Progressive Era (1900–1920), the postwar Period (1946–1960), and the Contemporary period (1980–2005). The overarching contention is that the family has been a central organizing principle of political development and the historical development of American social policy, a claim that has been largely overlooked in political and policy analysis. Through extensive inductive analysis of party platforms, congressional hearings, family bill sponsorship/co-sponsorship and roll call data in the House and Senate, she identified patterns in the development of partisan family ideologies, contending that there have been two competing family ideologies – the progressive and traditional – that have persisted across the past century. She explored the two family ideologies as part of broader family political orders, defined as "constellations of ideas, policies, institutions, and practices regarding the family that hang together and exhibit a coherence and predictability." The dissertation documented and explained the change and evolution of the progressive and traditional family orders, their partisan composition and attendant social policies. By inserting social policies into evolving family orders and unearthing elite interests, partisan dynamics, electoral family conditions, and family ideologies, the project hoped to account for why certain types of policy ideas, such as same-sex marriage, gain ascendance during certain periods while others decline.

Selected Recent Publications

"Resurgent Parenthood – Organic Domestic Ideals & the Southern Family Roots of Conservative Ascendancy, 1980-2005.Polity 48 (2016): 205-223. 

"From Need to Hope: The American Family & Poverty in Partisan Discourse." Journal of Policy History 27, no. 4 (Autumn 2015): 592-635.

Public & Private Order: Law, Race, Morality and the Antebellum Courts of Louisiana, 1830-1860.”  Journal of Southern Legal History 23 (2015): 117-160. 

Of Families or Individuals?Southern Child Workers & the Progressive Crusade for Child Labor Regulation, 1899-1920.” in James Marten (ed). Children and Youth during the Gilded Age and Progressive Period (New York: New York University Press, 2014).


Clara Altman - History, Brandeis University

Project: Courtroom Colonialism: Philippine Law and U.S. Rule, 1898-1935

Altman photo

Fellowship year: 2013

Mentor: Mary Dudziak, Emory University

Clara Altman is the Director of the Federal Judicial History Office at the Federal Judicial Center.

In that capacity, she works to promote the preservation of the history of the federal courts and the federal judiciary in a variety of ways.  In particular, the Federal Judicial History Office develops programs relating to the history of the judicial branch and assists federal courts with their own judicial history programs.

Altman earned a B.A. in History and Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis, a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School, and a Ph.D. in American History from Brandeis University.  She was previously a Visiting Assistant Professor of Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought at Amherst College.  Her scholarly work concerns legal history and the U.S. in the world with a focus on U.S. engagement with foreign legal cultures and institutions from the nineteenth century to the present. Her dissertation, “Courtroom Colonialism: Philippine Law and U.S. Rule, 1898-1935” is a historical account of the development of the Philippine legal system under U.S. rule between the occupation of the islands and the start of the Philippine Commonwealth.  The project was based in archival research in English and Spanish language sources in the Philippines and the United States and was supported by grants from the American Historical Association, Bentley Library at the University of Michigan, and the Mellon Foundation, in addition to the Miller Center. Altman has also written on the state of the field of legal history.  In her chapter, “The International Context: An Imperial Perspective on American Legal History,” in A Companion to American Legal History (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013) Altman proposes a new, global framework for the field, emanating from three categories of analysis: the constitutional order, the international order, and what some scholars have called “legal borderlands."


Saladin Ambar - Political Science, Rutgers University

Project: The Rise of the Hudson Progressives: How Governors Helped Shape the Modern Presidency

Ambar photo

Fellowship year: 2008

Mentor: Sidney Milkis, University of Virginia

Saladin Ambar is Associate Professor of Political Science at Lehigh University.

He teaches courses in American politics on the American presidency and governorship, race and American political development, and political parties and elections. Professor Ambar is the author of How Governors Built the Modern American Presidency (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012) which won the Robert C. and Virginia L. Williamson Prize in the Social Sciences, and the newly released Malcolm X at Oxford Union: Racial Politics in a Global Era (Oxford University Press, 2014).  He is currently working on a book about the political career and thought of former New York Governor, Mario M. Cuomo. Since his arrival in 2009, Professor Ambar has been active in Lehigh's Africana Studies program where he has taught courses in Black Political Thought, along with a First Year Seminar on the Political Philosophy of Barack Obama.

Ambar's dissertation explored how pre-presidential executive office and leading Progressive Era state executives built a line of practices that reinvigorated and expanded the scope of presidential action. The central case studies of Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin Roosevelt's governorships are examined against a backdrop of shifting executive practices, exemplified by such instrumental governors as Grover Cleveland, Bob LaFollette, and Hiram Johnson. This study challenged the presumption of the modern presidency's origins. It posited that the modern American presidency cannot be fully apprehended without recognition of its ties to developments launched by state executives.

Selected Recent Publications

Malcolm X at Oxford Union (Oxford University Press, 2014)

How Governors Built the Modern American Presidency (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012)

Malcolm X at the Oxford Union.” Race and Class (London, UK: April, 2012): 24-38.


Francesca Ammon - American Studies, Yale University

Project: Waging War on the Landscape: Demolition and Clearance in Postwar America

Ammon photo

Francesca Ammon is Assistant Professor of City & Regional Planning and Historic Preservation at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design.

Professor Ammon is an historian of the built environment. Her teaching, research, and writing focus on the changing shapes and spaces of the 20th- and 21st-century American city. She grounds her interdisciplinary approach to this subject in the premise that the landscape materializes social relations, cultural values, and economic processes. In particular, Professor Ammon is interested in the ways that visual culture informs planning and design, the dynamic relationships between cities and nature, the politics of place and space, and the roles of business and the state in shaping the physical landscape.

Professor Ammon is currently a colloquium member of the Penn/Mellon Foundation Humanities + Urbanism + Design Initiative. She is on the board of the Society for American City & Regional Planning History (SACRPH). Before joining the PennDesign faculty, Professor Ammon was a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. She has also held the Sally Kress Tompkins Fellowship, jointly sponsored by the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) and the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). While completing her Ph.D. in American Studies, she held a fellowship as a Whiting Fellow in the Humanities and was the John E. Rovensky Fellow with the Business History Conference.

Professor Ammon was the 2010-2011 Miller Center Ambrose Monell Foundation Fellow in Technology and Democracy.

Selected Recent Publications

“Post-Industrialization and the City of Consumption: Attempted Revitalization in Asbury Park, New Jersey.” Journal of Urban History 41. no. 2 (March 2015): 158-174.

“Unearthing Benny the Bulldozer: The Culture of Clearance in Postwar Children’s Books.” Technology and Culture 53, no. 2 (April 2012): 306-336.


Noel Anderson - Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Project: The Geopolitics of Civil War: External Military Aid, Competitive Intervention, and Duration of Intrastate Conflict

Anderson photo

While civil wars proliferated during the Cold War, their numbers have declined in the post-Cold War period. What is more, new conflicts breaking out since 1990 have much shorter average durations than their Cold War predecessors. What explains changing trends in the incidence and duration of civil war? To answer this question, Anderson’s dissertation explores how inter-state competition affects intra-state conflict. He argues that the varying prevalence of what he calls competitive interventions—two-sided, simultaneous military assistance from different third-party states to both government and rebel combatants—is central to the decline in war, and he develops a theory of competitive intervention that models and explains why this form of external military aid prolongs violent intrastate conflicts. The theory explores the micro-foundations of military aid and civil war; explains the unique strategic dilemmas competitive interventions entail for third-party interveners; and accounts for the decline in the incidence and duration of civil war by linking changes at the level of the international system to variation in the prevalence of competitive intervention over time. To test his theory, Anderson combines statistical analyses of a novel time-series dataset of military aid to civil war combatants (1975-2009) with detailed case studies, fieldwork, and archival research. His results shed new light on the international dimensions of civil war, address ongoing debates concerning the utility of military aid as a foreign policy instrument, identify which forms of intervention facilitate—and which impede—conflict management strategies, and inform policies prescriptions aimed at resolving today’s most violent conflicts.


Josh Ashenmiller - History, University of California, Santa Barbara

Project: The Strange Career of Environmental Impact Assessment

Ashenmiller photo

Josh Ashenmiller is Professor of History at Fullerton College in California.

Ashenmiller has taught U.S. history at Fullerton College since 2006. Prior to that, he taught at Scripps College, Claremont-McKenna College, Cal State Northridge, Campbell Hall School, and River Oaks School. He has published articles in the Pacific Historical Review and various historical encyclopedias. In addition to teaching, he has worked on the Faculty Senate, Program Review Committee, and the accreditation self-study.

Ashenmiller wrote his dissertation on environmental impact assessment (EIA) and discussed a strong continuity between environmental impact assessment and the long tradition of federal attempts to manage economic growth, dating to the establishment of the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1887.


Emily Baer - Political Science, University of Minnesota

Project: "Party Factions and the Roots of Institutional Change in Congress: The Democratic Study Group and Liberal Democrats' Campaign to Reform the House of Representatives (1959-1994)"

Baer photo

Fellowship year: 2017

Mentor: Sarah Binder, George Washington UniversityBrookings Institute

Emily Baer' project addresses how factions within political parties promote policy and leadership change in the U.S. Congress through institutional reform. Congress is frequently criticized as an institution structured by rules and norms which make policy and leadership changes among its members difficult. Leaders are often slow to respond when policy preferences within parties change, a new group or constituency emerges, or elections reveal policy shifts among the public. The relative impermeability of parties to new ideas and leaders poses a significant problem for democratic representation and responsiveness within parties. This dissertation approaches these issues through a case study of the Democratic Study Group (DSG), the faction of liberal Democrats in the House from 1959-1994 and leader of the 1970s “reform era.” Liberals organized DSG out of their frustration with party leaders’ inability to overcome the power of southern conservative committee chairs, ultimately leading to a series of reforms significantly redistributing power between the Democratic leadership, committee chairs, and individual members. Today, this historic effort has taken on a renewed importance as a new faction – the Republican Freedom Caucus (analyzed as a comparative case) – has emerged to challenge the balance of power between junior members and party leaders.  But while the 1970s reform era is widely recognized for increasing representation and responsiveness in the Democratic Caucus, we know little about how a faction was empowered to lead the reform effort. In Baer' dissertation, she questions and analyzes using original archival research and in-depth interviews with former Members of Congress and their staffers: How do political parties respond to the changing preferences of their members? How does the rise of a new faction shape power in parties? And how can factions overcome the institutional hurdles to reforming rules and procedures, and expanding party leadership pathways and policy agendas?


Nancy A. Banks - History, Columbia University

Project: The Struggle over Affirmative Action in the New York City Building Trades, 1961–1976

Banks photo

Fellowship year: 2004

Mentor: Thomas Sugrue, University of Pennsylvania

Nancy Banks is the Dean of Students at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School.

While much scholarly work has been devoted to federal civil rights policy in the 1960s – including several studies on the growing commitment by the civil rights movement and the federal government in that decade to Affirmative Action – Banks believed there had been scant attention paid to Affirmative Action as it relates to the building trades unions, nor to the bitter and lengthy conflicts between civil rights activists, minority workers, and union members. Drawing upon a number of sources – including government documents and court records; the correspondence of political leaders, union officials, and civil rights organizations; and personal interviews with workers, politicians, and labor activists – Banks dissertation explored how Affirmative Action conflicts played out in New York City between 1961 and 1976, and analyzed the impact that they had on the development, implementation, and evolution of the nation's union-targeted affirmative action policies.


Fritz Bartel - History, Cornell University

Project: "The Privatization of the Cold War: Global Finance and the Fall of Communism"

Bartel photo

Fellowship year: N/A

Mentor: Daniel Sargent, University of California, Berkeley

Fritz Bartel’s dissertation examines the growth of communist states’ sovereign debt to Western banks and governments from the 1973 oil crisis through the end of the Cold War. Between 1970 and 1989, the Eastern Bloc accumulated over $90 billion of sovereign debt to Western banks and governments.  The core argument of the project is that this sovereign debt – and the bankers and policymakers on both sides of the Iron Curtain who managed it – decisively influenced the end of the Cold War.  Through studies of the financial history of Poland, Hungary, East Germany, and the Soviet Union, the project tracks the growth of Western financial power in the Eastern Bloc.  Based on extensive archival research across Europe and North America, it demonstrates the significant role that this Western financial power played in the years of transition from communism to democratic capitalism.  In so doing, The Privatization of the Cold War analyzes the rise of financial capitalism and the end of the Cold War as part of the same global history.  It is a history that illuminates the powerful role of non-state financial actors, as well as the challenges that global financial markets present to democratic governance, state sovereignty, and labor movements.


Warren Bass - History; Journalism, Columbia University

Project: JFK and Israel: The Kennedy Administration and the Origins of the U.S.–Israel Alliance

Bass photo

Warren Bass is Senior Editor of The Wall Street Journal review section.

Bass was formerly a fellow with the RAND Corporation, adviser to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, and the nonfiction book review editor of The Washington Post. He was a staffer on the 9/11 Commission and one of the writers and editors of its report. He has a Ph.D. in history and an M.Sc. in journalism from Columbia. His book, Support Any Friend: Kennedy’s Middle East and the Making of the U.S.-Israeli Alliance (Oxford, 2003), was one of the Christian Science Monitor's best books of 2013. 


Betsy Beasley - American Studies, Yale University

Project: “Serving the World: Energy Contracting, Logistical Labors, and the Culture of Globalization, 1945-2008”

Beasley photo

Betsy A. Beasley is a Ph.D candidate in American Studies at Yale University.  Her dissertation traces the rise of Houston as a global city in the half-century following World War II, arguing that the city’s business elite, especially those in oilfield services companies including Brown & Root, Schlumberger, and Hughes Tool, imagined and enacted a new vision of globalism.  Vehemently resistant to the demands of labor unions, corporate executives positioned the U.S. not as a center of manufacturing and production but as a white-collar headquarters offering expertise in logistics, engineering, and resource management to the rest of the globe.  This project charts the material developments that established Houston as a global center of petrochemical services alongside the cultural narratives that influenced and helped make sense of social, political, and economic change. 

Whereas the most common vision of American global power in the postwar years emphasized the U.S. as an industrial producer whose commodities and high standard of living would be exported around the world, this project highlights an alternative vision based on exporting service and expertise and importing commodities and raw materials, a different globalism that would come to dominate American culture and politics in the post-industrial 1970s.  Drawing methodologically from geography, cultural history, and the history of capitalism, Beasley examines a management vision of U.S. global power while also exploring the resistance of organized labor to this imperial project and the attempts of executives to convince global oil consumers to support U.S. expertise as the best means to ensure access to inexpensive petroleum.   

Beasley holds a B.A. in history from the University of Georgia and an M.S. in Urban Affairs from Hunter College of the City University of New York.  Her work has been supported by the American Historical Association, the New Orleans Center for the Global South at Tulane University, and the Coca-Cola World Fund. She co-hosts and produces "Who Makes Cents: A History of Capitalism Podcast" with David Stein.

Selected Recent Publications

Fighting for a Radical City: Student Protesters and the Politics of Space in 1960s and 1970s Downtown Manhattan.Urban History Review 37, no. 2 (March 2009)

Another New Kind of Marriage.Public Seminar,  July 20, 2015.


Michael Beckley - Political Science, Columbia University

Project: The Unipolar Era

Beckley photo

Michael Beckley is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Tufts University.

Beckley's research focuses on national power (how to measure it and why some countries are more powerful than others) and has been featured in numerous academic journals and popular media including NPR, TheWashington Post, Financial Times, Foreign Policy, The National Interest, and Harvard Business Review. Prior to Tufts, Michael was a fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and at Dartmouth College and worked at the U.S. Department of Defense, the RAND Corporation, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 

Titled “The Unipolar Era,” Beckley’s dissertation set out to debunk the notion that the United States was being eclipsed by China as the dominant power. In particular, he aimed to demonstrate that GNP alone does not determine the strength of a nation’s military. Instead, he argued the level and comprehensive integration of a state’s economic development matter most. Beckley won the article of the year award (2010) from the Journal of Strategic Studies and in 2009 received the International Studies Association’s Carl Beck Award for best paper by a graduate student.

Selected Recent Publications

"The Myth of Entangling Alliances: Reassessing the Security Risks of U.S. Defense Pacts." International Security 39, no. 4 (2015): 7-48.

"The Myth of Entangling Alliances." War on the Rocks, June 9, 2015.

"How Big a Competitive Threat Is China, Really?" Harvard Business ReviewFebruary 29, 2012.

China and Pakistan: Fair-Weather Friends.Yale Journal of International Affairs 7, no. 1 (Winter 2012).
 


Sean Beienburg - Politics, Princeton University

Project: Constitutional Resistance in the States, 1880–2010

Beienburg photo

Fellowship year: 2014

Mentor: John Dinan, Wake Forest College

Sean Beienburg is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Lehigh University.

Beienburg's teaching and research interests include the U.S. Constitution and constitutional law, American political development and thought, federalism, parties and interest groups, and Prohibition.

His dissertation examined how states’ rights claims and efforts to evade, ignore, and resist federal constitutional development played an increasingly central role in the political climate. He questioned whether such state activity was a normal part of American political development or a dangerous aberration recalling the divisions before the Civil War. He analyzed whether such efforts were primarily the seeds of Southern resistance to racial integration or had a more honorable, broader legacy. Beienburg sought to understand such developments by providing an account of state constitutional resistance since 1880. In short, this project aimed to better understand the historical legacy of state participation in constitutional politics in order to make sense of its current manifestations.

Selected Recent Publications

"The People Against Themselves: Rethinking Popular Constitutionalism." Law and Social Inquiry 41, no. 1 (Feb 2016)

"Contesting the U.S. Constitution through State Amendments." Political Science Quarterly 129, no. 1 (March 2014): 55-85.


Laura Blessing - Politics, University of Virginia

Project: The New Politics of Taxation: The Republican Party and Anti-Tax Positions

Blessing photo

Laura Blessing is a Senior Fellow at The Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University.

Blessing earned her PhD from the University of Virginia. While at UVa she taught courses on Congress, the Presidency, and Media and Politics for students at both UVa and Sweet Briar College.  After defending her dissertation she worked on Capitol Hill as an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow.  She served as the legislative assistant for tax policy for Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee.  She is currently working on a book on the politics of tax policy from the mid-century to today. Blessings' areas of expertise include the politics of tax policy, legislative politics, the legislative process, the state of partisanship, Congressional operation and history, and Executive-Legislative relations.

Blessing's dissertation investigated the development of our current tax politics.  In the mid-1950s to mid-1970s a balanced budget consensus and low levels of politicization were apparent.  Since then, these have changed, with profound consequences.  This transformation has been caused, not by ideological or economic factors, but rather by a national Republican party-building strategy.  This is evident in a number of different measures, both qualitative and quantitative, from roll call votes and party platforms to the coordination strategies of national party leaders.  The party has used an explicitly anti-tax strategy to win elections and build a powerful coalition of many otherwise disparate groups. 


← Return to Fellowship home